November 10, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
Usually “long and distinguished” is just a platitude rustled up at retirement time to describe someone’s career, but Burt Rutan really did have a long career, and as the world knows, a distinguished one.
Rutan, the founder of Scaled Composites at Mojave, Calif., has decided to retire next April after 36 years of designing aircraft—including the nation’s first passenger spaceship.
Prior to forming the Rutan Aircraft Factory in 1974, he was a flight test engineer for the Air Force. His factory developed experimental homebuilt aircraft for builders. Rutan will assume the title of founder and chairman emeritus of Scaled Composites.
Nearly all his 45-year career was spent in California’s Antelope Valley. He gave up day-to-day responsibilities in 2008 following open-heart surgery. Rutan’s company designed SpaceShipOne that successfully achieved repeated suborbital flights in 2004, and won the $10 million Ansari X Prize. A second-generation spaceship is in development that will take tourists on a brief suborbital flight for the company Virgin Galactic.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
As the cold weather chills AOPA’s Headquarters in Frederick, many of us are inside generating new resources for flying clubs.
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
AOPA Flying Club Manager Kelby Ferwerda posted the following on the AOPA Flying Club Facebook Page: “Recently I’ve talked with quite a few Flying Clubs about maintaining social activity through the cold winter months. Some clubs host Holliday Parties, others have Potluck Movie Nights. What does your club do to keep members involved during the chilly months?”
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